Lesson 8 of 25
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Inelastic Needs

Scentventure Compass Point: Partnership

Identifying and resolving additional stressors not necessarily considered directly part of the problem is an essential part of the early stages of behaviour modification. I can’t really say it enough that the calmer your dog is overall, the easier they will be to train.

Stressors could include those found on walks or in the house, at the groomers or vet, as well as internal stress on the body and brain, such as ill health or injury.

Stress occurs when dogs cannot fulfil their basic canine needs. Scientists and researchers have identified exactly what the basic, inelastic needs of our domestic dogs are by studying the ethogram of feral and free-ranging dogs. An ethogram is a catalogue or inventory of behaviours or actions exhibited by a species. 

Here are some actions/activities/behavioural patterns that researchers have identified as being inelastic needs for dogs.

Safety

  • Routine, stability, a calm and consistent family unit
  • Safe spaces in the home (places where they can go and not be disturbed) and exit routes 
  • Minimal time spent alone
  • Positive social interactions and avoid punishment
  • Provide choices in their daily life

Are there any adjustments you could make from the Safety category?

Eating

  • Provide occasions for social eating. Dogs don’t like to eat alone and prefer to be in the company of their family unit. Could you sit with them while they eat, or give them something to lick or chew while you’re eating?
  • Give them something to chew every day 
  • Give them something to lick every day
  • Provide regular foraging activities (we’ll show you how in ‘Exploration Zone’ soon)
  • Feed a nutritionally balanced diet 
  • Give them variety of foods, especially variety of protein – allow them to choose sometimes 
  • Give them a variety of tastes and textures – allow them to choose sometimes 

Are there any adjustments you could make from the Eating category? Speak to a Scentventure Guide for how to adjust this section if your dog has allergies, specific dietary requirements or guarding issues. 

Body Care

  • Ensure dogs have regular access to their toilet area. Dogs are the only species that can’t just pop for a wee whenever they need to.
  • Occasions for coat care – dogs need soft surfaces to roll on e.g. carpet, real grass, sand, rugs or bedding. They do this to distribute oils across their skin. 
  • Don’t over-bathe or over-groom. 

Are there any adjustments you could make from the Body Care category?

Sleep

  • Adult dogs need around 14 hours sleep in every 24 hour cycle. 
  • They get the best sleep in the middle of the day and the middle of the night. 
  • They are social sleepers, meaning they get their best sleep with other familiar dogs or people. This is easy at night as we can move our dogs’ bed into our room but be aware that if you work during the day, your dog may need to catch up on sleep when you return. Even if it looks like your dog is sleeping soundly (e.g. if you have cameras), they may be sleeping lightly.  
  • Provide a dark, calm, quiet sleeping environment
  • Do not disturb
  • Provide a choice of sleeping places with different heights and surfaces, including elevated surfaces
  • Provide temperature choice. Dogs need to be able to move around to seek the correct temperature. Crated dogs do not have this choice. 
  • Ensure they have enough space to lie flat out. They need to lie flat to benefit from the REM phase of sleep

Are there any adjustments you could make from the Sleep category?

This is a broad catalogue and most people aren’t able to do everything on the list straightaway so please don’t feel bad if you can’t. Even being able to make some changes can have a great positive impact.